Why Some Succeed While Others Fail: Moses Taylor

What a pleasure it is to read the lives of such men as Moses Taylor. He began life as a clerk and died worth $50,000,000; but it is not alone for his wealth that we take such an interest in Moses Taylor, but the good he did with it, and the example he set moneyed men.

Born in New York, January 11th, 1808, he served a clerkship of ten long years, when he started business on his own account. The cholera raged that year in that city; consequently all business suffered, many fled from their homes but young Taylor stood by his new enterprise, and even the first year cleared some money. Three years later he was burned out, but while the smouldering brands lay at his feet he arranged to erect a new building to stand on the same spot, and the next day opened a store in his dwelling house. Of course such enterprise would win in the end; when he was called to the presidency of the city bank no one seemed surprised for when a man has ability it is not necessary for him to tell it—he becomes a marked personage. The success that attended his efforts in this new capacity is shown from the following:

In the great panic of 1857 a meeting of the various bank presidents was called. When asked what percentage of specie had been drawn during the day some replied fifty per cent., some even as high as seventy five per cent. but Moses Taylor replied, “We had in the bank this morning, $400,000; this evening, $470,000.” While other banks were badly ‘run,’ the confidence in the City Bank under his management was such that evidently people had drawn from other banks and deposited in the City Bank. He was Treasurer of the Transatlantic Cable, being one of its most ardent supporters from 1854 until long after it had became established.

He was a most conspicuous ‘War Democrat,’ taking an early stand as to the duty of all bankers. Probably no one man, save possibly Jay Cook, did more to sustain the credit of the North in those trying times than did Moses Taylor. He became interested in the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western railway, and the mines in the coal regions of Pennsylvania. In 1873 he became President of the Lackawanna Iron and Coal Co. He also became largely interested in the Manhattan Gas Co., out of which alone he made a respectable fortune. When he died he left a very large sum of money for the purpose of building a hospital at Scranton. The need of this hospital was very urgent, as accidents were continually happening to the miners in their dangerous work. The building is not only a splendid edifice but it fills a long-felt want.

Such a man was Moses Taylor who died May 23rd, 1882. Few such men have we, would that there were more. Moses Taylor was a practical man, he cared more for business than for any amusement. Art was of far less account with him than were the suffering miners who had no place to stretch their bleeding forms until he came to their aid.